Calpine deactivates several power generating units in New Jersey

Calpine Corp. (NYSE: CPN) on May 1 deactivated several power generating units in New Jersey, including Middle Energy Center Units 1-3.

PJM Interconnection listed the deactivations in the May 13 version of its list of deactivated units in the PJM region.

In April 2012, the company asked for the deactivations of the Middle Energy Center Unit 1 (19 MW), Unit 2 (20 MW) and Unit 3 (36 MW) as of May 31 of this year. Then in January the owner informed PJM that units will deactivate on May 1 due to New Jersey environmental rules.

PJM routinely does not give the name of the owners of the power plants on these lists. But the Calpine (NYSE: CPN) website says about its 77-MW Middle Energy Center in New Jersey: “The Middle Energy Center units began commercial operation in the early 1970s and are operated as peaking units. Calpine acquired Middle in 2010 as part of its acquisition of the Conectiv Energy assets. The aero-derivative combustion turbines are ‘Black Start’ capable, meaning that in an emergency if the whole grid system goes down (causing a blackout), these self-sufficient units can be used to bring the system back online. These units can be started without needing a feed from a larger unit and, in turn, can feed the power needed by larger units to re-start after a blackout. The Middle units are also synchronous condenser capable, meaning the units can spin while connected to the grid, but not produce energy. When in this mode, the units can be used as voltage support and as spinning reserve, and they can be brought online quickly.”

Said Calpine about the Middle Energy Center in a footnote in its Feb. 20 annual Form 10-K report: “We have provided notice to PJM that we plan to retire these units before commencement of the PJM Reliability Pricing Model 2015/2016 delivery year.” That footnote, by the way, also applies to the 60-MW Missouri Avenue Energy Center and the 34-MW Cedar Energy Center, both of which are also simple-cycle peakers located in New Jersey.

Units at those plants also appear on the PJM list as having been deactivated on May 1. They are: Cedar Unit 2 (22 MW); and Missouri Avenue CT B (20 MW), CT C (20 MW) and CT D (20 MW). Cedar Unit 1 (44 MW) was deactivated on Jan 28. Cedar Units 1-2 are the only units at this plant, and the three now-shut units at Missouri Avenue are also the only ones there.

Said the Form 10-K about the reason for these plant shutdowns: “New Jersey’s High Electric Demand Day (‘HEDD’) Rule limits NOx emissions from turbines and boilers. Beginning in 2015, Phase 2 of the HEDD Rule will require investments in emissions controls on some of our peaking power plants. We retired our 158 MW Deepwater Energy Center in 2014. We provided notice to PJM that we plan to retire our 34 MW Cedar Energy Center, 60 MW Missouri Avenue Energy Center and 77 MW Middle Energy Center before the commencement of the PJM 2015/2016 delivery year. Due to current generator capacity concerns in the PJM service area for the winter of 2015/2016, PJM may require one or more of the plants to continue to operate for a period of time, but we would be entitled to full cost recovery. In addition, PJM has proposed a new Capacity Performance Program intended to improve electric reliability within PJM during extreme weather conditions, and this program could potentially affect the retirement date of a number of sources within PJM, including ours, subject to regulatory approvals.”

The Form 10-K added: “We are installing emissions controls equipment at our 73 MW Carll’s Corner Energy Center and 67 MW Mickleton Energy Center to comply with the emission limits in the HEDD Rule, as these power plants cleared PJM’s 2015/2016 base residual auction.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.